|In Central America, over 90 per cent sea turtle eggs on some beaches never get to hatch. These eggs are harvested by poachers, sent to cities and fed by humans.
Therefore, the team created a new tool to help reduce this kind of incidents from happening. During the trials, researchers hid GPS devices in fake turtle eggs to track the journey from poacher to the table. This GPS device worked out during the first test.
“Our research showed that placing a decoy into a turtle nest did not damage the incubating embryos and that the decoys work,” said biologist Helen Phesey of the University of Kent in the UK.
According to the biologist, it is possible to track illegally removed eggs from beach to the end consumer as shown by their longest track, 137kilometres.
Scientists have been using decoys like a fake baby gorilla in Africa, penguin-shaped robots in Antarctica and eggs to make animal’s guard down. It can then help scientists to study animal behaviour in their natural habitat.
Decoy turtle eggs
The name of the decoy eggs goes by the name of InvestEGGator. Its usage is to detect wildlife trafficking transit routes.
To begin with, the team placed 101 realistic decoys in sea turtle nests across four Costa Rican beaches. The team then placed the GPS device in a 3D-printed globe in the shape of turtle eggs and set the GPS devices to emit one signal per hour. The team deployed one egg per nest as the poachers usually take the entire clutch.
The researchers tracked five trafficked clutches from the stolen eggs. However, the team pointed out that the aim was not to find the poachers removing the eggs from their nests. It is to follow the tracking route and find out where they end up.
“As trafficking is a more serious crime, those handover points are far more valuable from a law enforcement perspective than catching someone taking a nest,” Pheasey said.
The team hopes that the InvestEGGator can help build better economic opportunities. Besides, they hope to raise awareness to protect sea turtle egg from being poached.
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